I'd gotten the impression that this was just another autobiographical study of the hardships of an Army training camp, rather like "Jarhead." Instead, it's an interesting piece about suffering, responsibility, and testosterone.
It's 1971. Colin Farrell and Mathew Davis are friends, sort of, just out of basic training, now in infantry school in the Louisiana. The final week is spent at an isolated camp which replicates the conditions of Vietnam, called Tigerland. Soldiers speak of Tigerland in hushed, frightened voices.
I don't know why they dread it so much because, as it turns out, except for one psychopathic maniac, it's not that much worse than infantry school. The sergeants should foul curses at the men, shove them, kick them, beat them to the ground and literally make them eat dirt.
Plaudits for the photography, the casting, the performances, and the direction, which, thank Bog, doesn't use a wobbling camera except for a few minutes during a live fire exercise. No CGIs and no slow motion action. Nobody runs away from an exploding fireball. Nothing explodes. What a relief.
The plot is an amalgam of elements familiar from other stories. There is the non-conformist who invites disaster by not cowering like everyone else -- "From Here To Eternity," "Cool Hand Luke." The soldier who is a natural leader of men but continually turns down responsibility -- "To Hell And Back," "Fixed Bayonets." The main message of the movie shouldn't raise anyone's hackles. Vietnam was a pointless shedding of blood, but it's not the Army's fault. They do everything possible to prepare the men for combat, even if it looks (and is) sadistic. The war was foolish but the men in uniform aren't to blame. How can it be wrong?